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SCIENCE

Science is a compulsory subject in the curriculum as it demands and develops such a valuable diversity of skills. The Science Department is staffed by nine experienced teachers with varying expertise to deliver all three sciences to an exceptional level across the College. Science teaching uses a blend of theory and practical lessons and the overall aim is to develop in pupils, whatever their ability, a greater awareness and a more critical interest in the world around them. It is hoped that this will subsequently enable them to make better-informed judgments, concerning topical issues, in the future.

Resources 

There are seven main teaching laboratories on the ground floor of the College’s central teaching area. Each laboratory has access to modern technology with televisions, media players and data projectors shared between the sciences.

The Science Department has a large well-equipped preparation room adjacent to the teaching laboratories, in which practical experiments are planned, prepared, monitored and stored. Science technicians are on hand to assist teaching staff and to ensure pupils’ safety is ensured at all times.

A Science resource centre has recently been created to enable Sixth Form scientists to conduct longer-term investigations such as growing ‘fast plants’. The pupils have access to a departmental library and other Science journals and magazines for their personal research.

Additional Opportunities 

Throughout the year groups, pupils gain a lot of hand-on laboratory experience. This involves observing and conducting a number of interesting practical experiments.

Each year, the Year 11 Triple Award set attend the ‘Science Live’ event in Oxford. This is a series of lectures given by leading scientists in their field, many of whom are household names such as Robert Winston or Richard Dawkins. Trips out are also arranged for Sixth Form pupils, including a residential fieldwork course for Year 13 Biologists.

Keen scientists may wish to join the Chemistry Club. More information can be found on the clubs and societies page.

Curriculum 

Key Stage 3

In Years 7 and 8, all pupils attend one lesson per week for each of the three sciences. The Key Stage 3 syllabus is followed closely, with an additional emphasis on practical activities.

In Year 9, pupils are split into five small sets which are initially determined by Mathematics and English test results. Teaching continues to follow the Key Stage 3 syllabus in the Autumn Term, with an exam before Christmas used to re-set the pupils in preparation for the start of the GCSE specification. At this point, pupils may opt to study Triple Award Science and form an additional set. 

GCSE

Pupils not opting to take Triple Award Science sit their core GCSE Science examinations at the end of Year 10. Each assessment can be taken at foundation or higher tier in any combination depending on ability. Generally, pupils in the top three sets enter the higher level papers while the lower sets are judged on an individual basis based on consultation with parents.

In Year 11, all pupils work towards the GCSE Additional Science exam taken at the end of the year. Again, pupils are entered for the examination most appropriate for them to allow them to access their highest possible grade. The core and additional papers involved a balanced study of Biology, Chemistry and Physics. They are flexible, student-centred and designed to be accessible to pupils of all abilities.

Triple Award Science pupils take all their exams in Year 11. 

Sixth Form

Pupils wishing to continue with a Science subject in the Sixth Form are expected to have attained at least a grade A in Additional Science, as well as a B in Mathematics and English Language. Usually, between 5 and 10 pupils opt to take Chemistry, Biology and Physics meaning there is one set for each subject.

Biology: this A Level will suit students with an interest and curiosity about the diversity and origins of the world around them. The pace of biological research and the potential impact of recent discoveries show that Biology will play an increasingly important role in modern society, wealth creation and improved quality of life. Topics will focus on the natural environment and human interaction with it, developing an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the ways biological organisms function. pupils should expect to be assessed entirely via terminal written examinations.

Chemistry: the course integrates theory and relevant practical work. The subject content will include four core areas of Chemistry; Physical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Practical Skills in Chemistry. Amongst various key topics covered in depth, pupils will study atomic structure and the periodic table, entropy changes, acids and bases, rates of reaction, transition metals and bonding and structure. The course will be assessed by three written examination papers at the end of the second year.

Physics: over the two years, pupils will study mechanics, further mechanics, circular motion, particles and nuclear phenomenon, electrical circuits, gravitational and electrical field and thermodynamics amongst other topics. The A Level will be assessed through three exams taking at the end of Year 13, covering all topics taught over the two year period.

All three courses are extremely challenging and are only suitable for pupils with a high level of academic ability and commitment. The hard work, however, is rewarded as Sciences are regarded so highly by universities and employers. As such, attaining one or more Science A Levels opens up a huge range of opportunities for further studies and future careers. Physics is recognised as an impressive entry qualification for all higher education courses and employment. It is a course which demonstrates strong academic ability and understanding, and is particularly suitable for careers in science, medicine, engineering and biotechnology.